Sunday :: Oct 5, 2003

Will the Plame Affair Lead to a Hutton Style of Inquiry?

by Mary

The Plame Affair (or Plame Game as I sometimes like to think of it) could have the same effect on Bush's administration as Andrew Gilligan's report on BBC did on Blair's government.

Back in June when Andrew Gilligan reported that Blair's communication director had sexed up the September dossier, no one ever thought it would lead to a complete and total airing of how the Blair government manipulated the intelligence in order to drag Britain into a war against the will of the public and against the advice of their intelligence experts.

The Hutton Inquiry was a model of how a democratic inquiry should run, on a fast schedule that did not allow people to delay or obstruct and with a public website updated every day with the new evidence that had been presented. Compare this with the 9/11 inquiry which after months, now dragging into years, has yet to have much to show for their efforts. (For my interim summary of the Blair Affair, click here.)

There are some interesting parallels with what happened in Britain to drive this story with how Plame story has been developing over the last couple of weeks. In Britain, Alastair Campbell decided to make a lesson of Gilligan and when they found the "leaker", they started to persecute Dr. Kelly in order to make a lesson to other leakers. Dr. Kelly moved the story into the stratosphere when he was found dead. So although the original committee looking into Gilligan's accusation against Campbell, gave the Blair government a pass, Dr Kelly's death meant that the story was not dead. Hutton was appointed to look into the Kelly's death and used the occasion to cover the full story about how the September dossier came to be and whether Downing Street had a hand in "sexing it up". And after a few weeks, all the evidence shows that Blair took the country to war on evidence that was very weak and that the intelligence community did not support the September dossier.

Well, out in lefty blogostan, we know that there is lots of evidence showing that the Bushies did the same thing as the Blair government: they ran roughshod over the intelligence community and basicially lied to build their case for war. The Blairistas overreached when they tried to discipline Dr Kelly and to bring down the BBC. The Bushies overreached when they tried to discipline Joseph Wilson to make sure no one else ever would speak out of turn.

But the Bushies have grabbed the gator by the tail and now they can't afford to let it go. Because rather than intimidating Joe Wilson, they have created a whirlwind that they don't control.

I predict that just as in Britain as the inquiry progressed, where more and more people came forward to tell of the Blair lies, the same will happen here. Wilson will not back down and the story will come out despite the very best efforts of the White House to stem the tide. The story will replay itself in front of an American public who will now be open to hearing from people like Greg Theilmann, Anthony Zinni and Brady Kiesling. Rather than having their statements just dropping into the entertainment maw to be chewed up and dropped from sight, we will see this story get legs.

The steady drip-drip-drip of the deaths in Iraq, the massive downpayment asked by the Bush administration for their war, and recognition that something is seriously out-of-whack on the homefront will make this story front and center for awhile. And Wilson has taken the advice of John Dean to sue the traitors, thus forcing open the secretive White House and stripping from them the ability to hide their actions.

So please pass the popcorn. This will be a fascinating story to watch unfold.

PS: Blair's problems continue to mount. Robin Cook has now revealed that Tony Blair admitted to him that Saddam didn't have any useable Weapons of Mass Destruction before the war. Perhaps this is why it is so hard to find any in Iraq?

Mary :: 11:30 PM :: Comments (14) :: Digg It!